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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

English 392: Post-Colonial Theory

Find Journal Articles

Search within the Full Text of Articles

Traditional Article Databases - Keyword Search the Descriptions of the Articles

"Cast a Wide Net" Databases

Advice on Searching the Database MLA International Bibliography

Basic Search Tips for Any Library Database

  • Exact phrases "in quotes" such as titles of works-- “things fall apart”
  • Use OR for synonyms if you want either term to be present -- postcolonial OR post-colonial 
  • Use AND if you want all of the terms to be present -- Achebe and religion
  • Use an * on the root form of a word to find any version of the root word with different endings -- femin* to find feminist or feminism or feminine

Searching MLA International Bibliography

MLA is the most comprehensive database for literary criticism. It indexes over 3,000 journals, as well as books, book chapters, and dissertations, back to 1923. However, it can be somewhat frustrating to search because the vast majority of the time, there is no abstract or summary of the work. You are keyword searching the title of the article/book and subject headings. (And for older articles and books, the subject headings are quite broad and not very helpful.)

Type in your search terms.

  • If you are looking for criticism of a particular short story, type in the name of the short story "in quotes" and the last name of the author.
    • If this does not work, then type in the name of the author and "short stories"
  • If you are looking for criticism on a particular theme or motif, think of all the synonyms for the motif, such as landscape or environment or pastoral or nature
    • Put one concept per box, with an or in between synonyms.
    • Type in one term or a “simple phrase”. Do not type in a string of words or an entire sentence.

Narrowing Results

The database wants to help you narrow down. Note the various limiters on the left side:

  • by Source Type: academic journals (scholarly) vs. book articles (think book chapters) or books, etc.
  • by Subject -- NOTE: narrow by subject one at a time, rather than checking more than one!

Reviewing Your Results

Get more info: For more information about the article/book chapter/book, click on the hyperlinked title, or hover over the magnifying glass icon next to the title.

Re-sort the results: These results are by relevance, or which ones have our keywords the most frequently. You can change to by date if you wish.

Finding the Full Text of Articles

When you are searching in one of the library databases and the article in question isn't available full text right there, look for the icon or a hyperlink that says Check for Full Text. Click on the icon or link, and this will bring up a new window that looks similar to the one below:

screenshot of check for full text results

Step 1: If the article is available online, it will say Fulltext available at the top. (It looks like a hyperlink, but it is a link to take you to the page you're already on.) Under View It you will see links to the databases that have the article. In the example above the article is available in JSTOR.

Step 2: If the article is not available full text, it will say Check availability. To see if we have it in print or microfilm, scroll down to Find in a Library. If we do have at least one issue of the source, it will give you the holdings record for that source (date range held, location, and call number). In this case, we have print copies of the journal from 2000-current.

Step 3: If the article is not available full text, and we do not have it in print/microfilm, go back to the View It part and click the link Request this article using Interlibrary Loan (in the middle under Can't find it? -- see image above). You will need to log in using your NetID/SSO. Verify that the fields were filled out correctly and click the red Submit Request button. Articles usually take around 3-5 days. You will be notified via your EWU email that the article is available for you to download. (Directions are in the email.) 

Finding the Entire Book

MLA will also give you results found in books. Right now, the Check for Full Text button is not consistently working. Just copy/paste the title of the book into the EWU Library Catalog to be sure.

Save Relevant Articles

When you find results you would like to examine further, click the link Add to Folder. Once you are finished, click Folder View in the gold Folder has items box on the right side of the screen. You can email all the results to yourself.